German language courses at the VHS Munich

Experiences with the Volkshochschule

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erdbeere
I'm starting an 'intensive' German course tomorrow and was wondering if anyone has ever taken a Mittelstufe 1 course at the VHS? What was ur experience with it...how was ur German when u started and how was it after? And what was the level of the other students' German?

Related topic: German language teachers at the Volkshochschule
don_riina
Whats mittelstufe 1? Is that the one after ZD? If it is, I've done such a course, and frankly found it seriously lacking. The level of spoken German amongst the other students (most of whom had been learning German from the basic course upwards), was shockingly bad. I really mean shocking. It was as if they had learnt German by rote, and could not actually talk about anything abstract whatsoever. You could not make any jokes or gags, because they took everything literally.
However, the written work they all did well in, whereas I certainly did not, because I frankly refuse to get bogged down in this ridiculous gender concept - and in written exams, you'll get marks knocked off for a sills gender mistake, but no bonus marks for attemting anything complex - which to me is a waste of time a bit, but thats studying formally for you.
I've heard that some VHS courses get pretty full, but I presume that will be more of the case with the subsidised courses, and mittelstufe 1 is not a subsidised one (could be wrong here). In a fuller class, obviously you'll get less spoken practise.

I would say that my German improved dramatically due to the course, but in reality, it did not improve really; the course just forced me to speak for the first time - the German words were all in my head somewhere, it was just a matter of getting them out. The fact that most of the students were totally crap at speaking helped the most, because it was rather good for confidence
kitty-kat
I took several courses with the VHS when I first came over (3 years ago) but they were the "grundstufe" courses. My understanding is that grundstufe is for absolute beginners in speaking german, whereas mittelstufe is a continuation for those who already have a good working knowledge of spoken/written german, such as those who wish to be on par with native speakers in a professional environment. I took I think 5 classes, and in each class the level of german (appropriate to the course) varied. I believe you have to pass the "zertificat Deutsch" exam in order to enroll for mittelstufe, so I would assume your classmates would speak quite good german.
don_riina
I believe you have to pass the "zertificat Deutsch" exam in order to enroll for mittelstufe, so I would assume your classmates would speak quite good german.
Nah, you can enrol for mittelstufe without ZD, no probs. The thing is, ZD is pretty basic, and certainly does not mean that you speak quite good German, at least in my expericence. I found a ZD vocab list online once, and it was not particularly broad. When I went to the lingo school, I was looking at doing the ZD, and they told me I'd be bored out of my head, and to try something harder. After the first lesson of mittelstufe, the teacher said I should be in a much higher class than that even. My problem was grammar - I can apparently speak at an OK level, but make grammatical errors that are only covered in the basic classes; maybe I should have just started at the beginning, and learnt more methodically.
erdbeere
I think this is the class before the ZD because the book description says it reviews the grammer from Grundstufe that's necessary for the ZD.

I'm just nervous about the class because my spoken German is complete shit. I just don't get enough practise. My grammar is pretty good and I understand most things (I get along fine with German movies, books, etc) but I have a hard time getting involved in conversations cuz I'm just afraid to speak it.

Last yr I took a Mittelstufe 3 class at Klartext and I was fine, but I really don't feel like being the worst one in this class cuz then I'll never speak.

Anyway...we'll see how it goes, thanx for the info
Johnny English
I did the VHS in Augsburg for a few months in 2004. Found I was speaking more German to the girl at the McDonalds counter (getting a coffee during the break ) than I was in class all week.

I guess they could argue that whilst we were being taught all the technical grammer we were absorbing vocab and language etc - but I did not rate it much. Seemed geared towards passing exams for auslanders to be allowed to stay in Germany.

That said I could do with something else to force my German along again.
erdbeere
yea i figured it would be mostly grammar which is retarded because what difference does it make how good ur grammar is if you can't speak it?!

Anyway..I'm doing the class in Unterhaching, maybe it'll be different. Maybe it'll be liek the spanish class I'm taking where the teacher asked us what was most important ...speaking, writing, listening, grammar, or reading.
kitty-kat
I also think there it makes a huge difference who you have teaching the class too. I had a couple of really awesome teachers, who encouraged the class to participate and made learning interesting, and then one really bad teacher who basically just lectured us in german the whole time, and we didnt participate as much. I remember thinking that if my german was good enough to just follow her lectures- I wouldn't be in the class! I got almost zilch from that class.
They don't all seem to realize that people learn in different ways: some people learn better by hearing, some by reading, and some by visualizing.
Hutcho
I'm doing the current Grundstufe 2 class, and have been told that you do need to take a test before starting the Mittelstufe classes (I'm still a way off that though).

The VHS courses are very focussed on grammar and the theory of the language. At first I was quite annoyed about this because I wasn't making much progress but it is really taking off now and I've realised that if you ever want to speak the language properly its the only way to do it.

Otherwise you will end up like don_riina, who by the sounds of it can speak german really quite well but is missing some serious knowledge by the sounds of it. If you don't know genders or what Nominativ/Akkusativ/Dativ/Genativ are, then you will be seriously lacking when it comes to Mittelstufe (or Grundstufe 2 for that matter!).
carrrrie
I am currently in the Mittelstufe 1 class through VHS. I actually tested into Grundstufe 3 (I've had 3 years of german in high school... pshhh), but that got cancelled and I couldnt make the times for Grundstufe 2, so I got bumped up into this one. Needless to say, everyone else in the class is far better at speaking, but since my high school taught mostly grammar and the class definitely focuses on grammar, it's not bad.

I think to be in this class it's generally assumed that you're not fluent (or even really that close to it), but you can hold up your end of a grammatically correct conversation without too many problems.
bibimimi
I am planning to register in a VHS german Grundstufe 1/1(a1/1)course.

Could anyone who used to attend this kind of course recommend to you a good teacher, because there are many choices.

Thanks in advance.

By the way, what is the difference between kurstyp 1 and kurstyp 2?

Topics merged by admin
Hutcho
I think kurstyp 1 and kurstyp 2 refer to the speed at which you cover the material, however I am not sure about that..

The teacher I had for Grundstufe 1 was a girl called Christina (I think) and I am currently with a teacher called Ursula. Both teachers were excellent, but I think I would recommend Ursula over Christina. As you say though, there are a lot of teachers, and maybe these two aren't even one of your choices..

Good luck!
bibimimi
Which type did you take when you was in the Grundstufe 1 couse, Hutcho, and how did you feel about its speed in terms of the levels of its students? I will call the VHS on Monday, but still want early reply from Toytowners.

I just checked the book and found there are Christiane Suppan, Christine Geist and Christiane Koch. Really have no idea which one is that you mentioned.
Hutcho
I think it was Christine Geist, but I couldn't be sure. I just tried to find my certificate for Grundstufe 1, but I can't see it anywhere..

I would just go with the one that is closest and easiest for you to get to and with times that suit.

Whichever one I did, I did the fastest/most intensive one. It was 3 lessons a week, 3.25 hours per lesson and 8 or 9 weeks at a time.

The students in my first course were not all that good (but neither was I) and it was a big step up to Grundstufe 2 (which for me was good). The class sizes are big (around 20 people) and there is no English spoken at all during the class. In fact, I have been the only native speaking English person in any of my classes. People in the classes really come from all over the place - hardly anyone is from the same country which makes it interesting.

As I've posted many times before, there is a lot of grammar in this course. After I finished Grundstufe 1 I really still couldn't understand anyone or say hardly anything. I knew when to use der, die and das and what nominitiv, akkusativ and dativ where though!

Not until I finished Grundstufe 2 did I start to get at all confident and now I am finishing Grundstufe 3 things are starting to come together but I'm really still not that good in day to day situations. Don't get me wrong though, I think its a really great course and it is intensive and takes a lot of brain power to get through. They focus a lot on grammar and the theory though, and this is something that frustrated me in the beginning. I was quite happy just to say "der" for every article.. but if you want to learn it properly I guess you have to suffer through it..

Remember that the VHS is not just for German classes, and they are unlikely to be able to speak English with you on the phone so you might have to get someone else to call..
kitkat64
Here is the definitive word on the VHS schools.

If you want to sign up for German classes, you go to the Gasteig on Friday, Feb 10. They hand out numbers starting at 7 am. You enroll as your number is called. If you do not get there early enough to get a number, you have to wait until 1pm to enroll. However, going on Friday is much better than waiting until Saturday. Only the students signing up for German get to do so on Friday.

Secondly, you must now pass an exam to be able to signup for the Mittelstufe 1. I just completed the last Grundstufe course (GS4) and I had to take an exam that is part of the course. With the results of this test, she recommended that we either go to Mittelstufe or take the Grunstufe Abschluss - which is a review of all the Grundstufe stuff. Grundstufe is where you learn the grammar rules. It does not mean that you can speak the language. The test consisted of 1 part grammar and one part of writing. I had one person in my class who passed the exam and is going onto Mittelstufe but he literally cannot speak German. I, on the other hand, failed the test but I speak passable German.

There is also the ZD, Zertificate Deutsch, exam that you can take. It costs about 100€ to take and many students need this to 1)get a job or 2) to study in Germany. It is more difficult to pass than the other exam.

As for teachers, the one I just had is now going back to teaching Grundstufe 1 and she is really, really good. Her name is Brigitte Valenti (she is German, but married an Italian, so don't be fooled by the name). Get her if you can get her. She teaches in Schwabing, I think.
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